From the 25th November 2012 ‘stalking’ became a criminal offense.
From the 25th November 2012 ‘stalking’ became a criminal offence. The offence is committed if a person purses a course of conduct and if that course of conduct amounts to stalking. So what does that mean? The ‘course of conduct’ must be on at least two occasions and includes ‘speech’ under the Protection of Harrassent Act 1997. It has been held to include the making of three telephone calls within five minutes of each other (even though they were listened to all on the same occasion by the recipient listening to their voicemail). The new part of the act defines what constitutes stalking. Stalking is defined as acts – or omissions – that are associated with stalking, those acts which amount to harassment of a person and that the person doing them knew or ought to know that the course of conduct amounts to harassment. Examples of stalking are given as contacting or attempting to contact a person, following a person, publishing any material relating to or purporting to relate to a person, monitoring the use of the internet or email of that person, loitering in any place whether public or private, interfering with property or possessions of that person and watching or spying on that person. The offence carries a maximum of 6 months’ imprisonment - but - if committed with fear of violence or behavior causing serious alarm and distress which has a substantial affect on the person’s day-to-day life the penalty is 5 years. Defences include acting to prevent or detect a crime, complying with any rule of law or condition made under an enactment or that the action was reasonable for the protection of that person or another, or their property. We will watch for the first headline case.
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